The Obnoxious Parties Next Door
Nothing struck me as off when I first met Richard. I was walking my usual route through our suburban neighborhood, which was filled with a colorful mix of brick homes, and shaded by a dense canopy of southern live oaks.
“Hey! You live just behind me, right?” Richard said with a Cheshire cat smile as he walked forward. He was clean cut, stocky, and middle aged, a former football player with hands shaped like bricks. He stood square on his perfectly trimmed grass, with blades of green poking up between his bare toes.
“I do indeed — welcome to the neighborhood,” I nodded, and reached out to shake his hand. We chatted for ten minutes and he told me of his two teenage sons, who lived with him and were great athletes. He wasn’t wearing a wedding ring, and didn’t mention his wife.
After telling him I worked in finance, he sized me up with a bunch of questions as my peers often do. He worked at a competing firm. Our introduction concluded without any significance, and he gave me his number if I ever needed anything — which I eventually would, unfortunately.
Five months later
The first shot across the bow came at 1 AM on a Tuesday night. Rock music blasted and broke through the silence, yanking me out of my sleep in a disoriented haze. The muffled conversation of a small group of teenagers ebbed in and out of earshot.
I rolled out of bed, shuffled to my window and parted the blinds. A beam of light rose up from behind my tall white fence. I sighed, “It’s Richard’s place.”
I liked Richard and didn’t want problems with him. I’d had bad luck with neighbors in the prior few years. First, a barking dog at 4 AM every morning. Then, a recently divorced 50-something — who was drinking herself sick every night and blasting music. Serenity was fleeting.
But I resisted the urge to call the police or confront them, mostly because the warm grip of sleep still had me, and whispered for me to crawl back in bed. I gave it a few minutes. Not long after, I heard a woman outside, shouting over the fence at them, “It’s enough already! I have to…